Governor’s office executive gave Tempura statement

Former chief of staff left island afterward

The chief of staff for former Cayman Islands Governor Stuart Jack gave a witness statement to U.K. Metropolitan Police investigators in the Operation Tempura case just before he left the islands more than five years ago.  

That written statement made by former Head of the Governor’s Office Simon Tonge was among the documents given to U.K. Metropolitan Police and later to Royal Cayman Islands Police Commissioner David Baines, in support of a criminal complaint filed last year by Tempura’s top investigator Martin Bridger.  

In the 2013 criminal complaint, Mr. Bridger alleged that he was lied to by Mr. Jack, Attorney General Samuel Bulgin and U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office advisor Larry Covington regarding their respective levels of involvement in the initial Tempura probe. Mr. Bridger has said, if he were aware of what the three men knew at the time, he would not have pursued a two-year, $10 million investigation into allegations of police corruption in the Cayman Islands.  

All three men have previously denied accusations by Mr. Bridger, and the former governor stated it was “high time” Mr. Bridger was held accountable for his actions in the wake of the Tempura investigation.  

“[My 2013] allegation [of crime] was referred to the RCIPS by the governor’s office,” Mr. Bridger said in a statement last week made at the Offshore Alert conference in Miami, Florida. “[Former RCIPS Commissioner Stuart] Kernohan, [former RCIPS Chief Superintendent John] Jones and Simon Tonge have provided witness statements.  

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“Commissioner Baines is yet to make a decision as to whether the matters will be criminally investigated.”  

Mr. Bridger, when contacted this week, clarified that Mr. Tonge had not made a recent statement directly in support of his criminal complaint to the U.K. Met, as did Mr. Kernohan and Mr. Jones.  

However, the former senior investigating officer of Operation Tempura confirmed that he was in possession of the statement Mr. Tonge made to police investigators looking into Tempura matters just before Mr. Tonge left the islands in late 2008 or early 2009. That statement was included in documentation submitted to U.K. Met investigators and Commissioner Baines, Mr. Bridger confirmed.  

The retired U.K. lawman declined to divulge details of the Tonge statement. 

The Cayman Compass also confirmed that Mr. Tonge, along with Mr. Covington, was a member of the original strategic oversight group that was charged with administering Operation Tempura-related investigations.  

According to government records, a Nov. 16, 2007 meeting of the strategic oversight group included the following members: former Chief Secretary George McCarthy [as group chairman], attorney Andre Mon Desir, Mr. Covington, Mr. Bridger, Mr. Tonge and Simon Ashwin [another Tempura investigator from the U.K.].  

Mr. McCarthy, now retired, was contacted for comment about the strategic oversight group this week. He had not responded by press time Wednesday.  

Another former member of the oversight group who joined later on in the Tempura investigation, former Deputy Governor Donovan Ebanks, clarified this week that – while he was a member of the group – he never actually chaired the panel, which was first led by Mr. McCarthy and later by Acting RCIPS Commissioner James Smith.  

Mr. Ebanks also told the Compass he would support Mr. Bridger and former Cayman Islands Auditor General Dan Duguay’s call for a public inquiry into all matters surrounding the Operation Tempura probe. 

“At some point, the public needs to have a fuller understanding, however they decide to do it,” Mr. Ebanks said.  

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  1. Simon Tonge was copied the emails dated 4 and 5 September 2007 between Stuart Kernohan and John Yates, which set up Tempura. I was supplied with copies of those emails over four years ago so his involvement has never been a secret.
    I also have a partly redacted copy of the minutes from that 16 November SOG meeting and can confirm it was chaired by Mr McCathy. Mr Ebanks was not present and minutes appear to have been prepared by Mr Tonge.
    Item 3 on the 16 November agenda is interesting. It reads ‘Legal advice surrounding the ‘3rd September’ incident were an obstacle to progressing the broader investigation.’ The response to this is for ‘MPS to provide file to Andre Mon Desir with advice to be provided as soon as possible thereafter.’ I wonder if anyone would care to explain what that all meant?
    Item 8 then refers to the need for two additional staff when the investigation went overt. That goes on to recommend the use of ‘recently retired UK officers’. Based on that it seems obvious Tempura was already being set up as a long-term investigation with the full knowledge of the Governor’s office.
    Other documents supplied to me under FOI show Mr Ebanks still overseeing an investigation into Jones and Kernohan in September 2008. In fact Jones was apparently scheduled to be interviewed again in November 2008, nearly eight months after Tempura went public.
    There are clearly too many questions being raised by material like this for the matter to be quietly buried.

  2. In fact Simon Tonge left the Cayman islands in October 2008 to take up a post as Deputy Head of Mission in Baku. It was a move that had been planned several months before.

    If you want a real mystery try this. Why was the investigator who obtained the Henderson warrants in September 2008 allowed to break his contract and leave the islands just two weeks later?